The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera

By John Warrack; Ewan West | Go to book overview


Jacobin, The (Cz., Jakobín). Opera in 3 acts by Dvor+̇ák; text by Marie C̆ervinková-Riegrová. Prem. Prague, C, 12 Feb. 1889.

The opera tells of how the Jacobin Bohuš (bar), returned from political exile, is helped to re-establish his position in the community by his friend Benda (ten), a musician.

Jacobs, René (b Ghent, 30 Oct. 1946). Belgian counter-tenor, conductor, and editor. Studied at the U of Ghent and with Alfred Deller. Début Amsterdam 1974 ( Clerio in Cavalli's Erismena). From 1970 has directed the Concerto Vocale, giving historically accurate performances of operas by Cavalli ( Giasone and Serse), Charpentier ( David et Jonatas), and Cesti ( Orontea); L'incoronazione di Poppea in his own edition at Montpellier 1989. His reputation as a major figure in the revival of early opera was enhanced with Orfeo at Salzburg 1993.

Jacquino. Rocco's assistant gaoler (ten) in Beethoven Fidelio.

Jadlowker. Hermann (b Riga, 20 July 1877; d Tel Aviv, 13 May 1953). Latvian tenor. Studied Vienna with Gänsbacher. Début Cologne 1899 ( Gomez in Kreutzer Nachtlager von Granada). Karlsruhe 1906-9; Paris, C, 1910; New York, M, 1910-12; Berlin, H, 190921. Created King's Son ( Königskinder), and Bacchus ( Ariadne auf Naxos). Possessed a large, mellow voice and a superb technique; his repertory encompassed Rossini's Almaviva and Parsifal. (R)

Janác+̆ek, Leoš (b Hukvaldy, 3 July 1854; d Moravská Ostrava, 12 Aug. 1928). Czech composer. Studied Brno with Kr+̇íkovskÝ, Prague with SkuherskÝ, Leipzig with Paul and Grill, Vienna with Krenn.

Janáek always regarded opera as lying at the centre of his creative life. The opening of the Czech Theatre in Brno in January 1885 encouraged him to sketch an operatic synopsis on Chateaubriand The Last Abencerage, but his first completed opera was S+̆árka (comp. 1887-8), to a text originally intended for Dvoṙák. When Dvoṙák turned it down, Janác+̆ek composed it without the author's permission. It is a remarkably assured and well-written work with some anticipations of his later style; and it is a stronger piece than its successor, The Beginning of a Romance ( 1894). Here, in an attempt to compose a light folk comedy, he reverted to an unsuccessful version of opera based on folk-songs and dances.

Through this work, however, he came to know Gabriela Preissová story Její pastorkyňa, which provided the basis of his next opera. Better known outside Czechoslovakia as Jenůfa ( 1904), it was his first operatic masterpiece and has remained perhaps the bestknown of them. The work's gestation was long, and shows in the move away from number-orientated opera (which lies behind the first act) to a more freely composed manner depending largely on monologue or soliloquy. This also enabled him to develop a more personal idiom by the use of speechmelodies, melodic curves which owed their shapes to his observations of Czech (especially Moravian) vocal inflections but their character to his own lyrical gift. They also enabled him to place this gift at the service of the truthful yet compassionate observation of human nature which is first fully revealed in Jenůfa. Further, he was able to make use of these identifying melodic phrases motivically (though not in any manner approaching Leitmotiv) so as to construct whole scenes. It is his first opera to a prose text, though he was obliged to give the text some metrical symmetries so as to match his musical intentions. The first performance of Jenůfa caused little widespread attention, and it was not until the Prague prem. of a revised version in 1916 that the work achieved real success.

Meanwhile, Janác̆ek turned his attention first to Osud (comp. 1903-6), or Fate, a work which marks some musical advance but a reverse in its use of a clumsy, semi-autobiographical text. There are also problems with the text of The Excursions of Mr Brouc+̆ek ( 1920). The opera is divided into two parts (a third was initiated but not completed). The adventures of the stolid burgher Brouc+̆ek as he is precipitated first into a society of empty aesthetes on the moon, and then back into the Hussite wars, owe something to the Vien-


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The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Key to Vocal Compasses x
  • Abbreviations xi
  • A 1
  • B 28
  • C 72
  • D 112
  • E 144
  • F 157
  • G 181
  • H 218
  • I 241
  • J 251
  • K 259
  • L 277
  • M 305
  • N 356
  • O 370
  • P 384
  • Q 419
  • R 421
  • S 449
  • T 505
  • U 525
  • V 529
  • W 545
  • X 563
  • Y 564
  • Z 565


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